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Worker Protection Standard How-to-Comply Manual for Agricultural Pesticides Revised by EPA

Release Date: 12/7/2005
Contact Information: Scott Downey
(206) 553-1200

December 7, 2005

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing its revised 2005 Worker Protection Standard (WPS) for Agricultural Pesticides How-to-Comply Manual, which supersedes the 1993 version. The revised Manual provides detailed information on who is covered by the WPS and how to meet these regulatory requirements. The updated Manual will facilitate better protection of pesticide workers and handlers in agriculture from the potential risks of pesticides.

This compliance assistance tool has been updated to reflect amendments to the WPS. The new Manual includes recent amendments and administrative exceptions, such as:
  • changes in the WPS worker training requirement that requires untrained workers to be provided basic pesticide information before entering pesticide-treated areas;
  • reduction in the number of days decontamination supplies must be available to workers after application of low-risk pesticides, and the supplies are to be located together;
  • modification in the language requirements for treated-area warning signs;
  • modification in the size requirements for treated-area warning signs;
  • early-entry exception for irrigation tasks and for limited contact tasks;
  • optional use of separable glove liners beneath chemical-resistant gloves;
  • optional wearing of gloves by agricultural pilots when entering or leaving aircraft and;
  • exemption for certified or licensed crop advisors and persons under their direct supervision.

The WPS is a Federal regulation issued by EPA in 1992 designed to protect agricultural workers (people involved in the production of agricultural plants) and pesticide handlers (people mixing, loading, or applying pesticides) from pesticide exposures on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses. The WPS offers protections for 2.5 million agricultural workers and pesticide handlers that are employed at some 600,000 agricultural establishments nationwide. All agricultural employers/owners/operators and labor contractors are required to comply with the WPS when they use pesticides with labeling that refers to the WPS, or have employees which work in agricultural fields recently treated with these pesticides. If you do not comply with the WPS requirements, you are in violation of Federal law, since it is illegal to use a pesticide product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.

EPA maintains a strong focus on ensuring implementation the WPS and supports State pesticide regulatory agencies that generally have primary jurisdiction for enforcing the WPS. During 2004, a total of 3,332 routine (non-complaint based) WPS inspections were conducted throughout the United States, and another 96 WPS investigations were performed in response to tips/complaints or alleged pesticide exposures (see State breakout at Out of these, 431 Warning Notices were issued, 133 cases were assessed fines, and another 35 cases were forwarded to EPA for investigation. Prominent WPS enforcement cases investigated by EPA are on-line at .

To further assist agricultural employers with WPS compliance, EPA also offers a CD-ROM version of the revised WPS HTC Manual which contains several additional compliance assistance tools not available with the printed version. The CD version of the HTC Manual also contains:
  • EPA’s WPS Worker Training Handbook (in English/Spanish);
  • EPA’s WPS Handler Training Handbooks (in English & Spanish);
  • 13 additional fact sheets;
  • EPA’s Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings handbook and;
  • Several other related references.

The 2005 revised HTC Manual is available on the Web at: . For further information about the revised Manual and how to obtain print and/or CD-ROM versions of the manual, or for additional information about the WPS, please contact your State Lead Agency for pesticide regulation at , EPA’s Agricultural Compliance Assistance Center at , or State/County US Department of Agriculture Extension office at . CD master copies suitable for reproduction and printing large numbers of the Manual are available from the EPA’s Agricultural Compliance Assistance Center, each State Lead Agency, or each EPA Regional office.

Related Links: Prominent WPS enforcement cases (
State Lead Agency Directory (
EPA’s Agricultural Compliance Assistance Center (
State/County US Department of Agriculture Extension offices (

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